Let me start by saying, I LOVE the holidays. All of them. I enjoy learning about why that day became a holiday, and I enjoy sharing that with my kids. However. . . (you knew that was coming), they're becoming more and more of a pain in my backside than I care to deal with.
To offer some background: I'm a step-mother to an eleven year-old son, and he lives with us full-time and always has. He spends maybe 3 weeks of the year (cumulative) with his mother. I'm the mother to a five year-old son, and he naturally lives with us full-time. I've been married to my husband for almost seven years. We live in the same town as my parents, his parents, and both of our sisters.
The holidays. My family has always divided the celebrating up into thirds - my mother's family (a three-hour drive away, thus resulting in an overnight visit) the weekend before Christmas, my father's family (thirty minutes away) on Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning was spent at home. Thanksgiving is now hosted by my mother after her mother's death five years ago. Now that the family drives in to see us, none of these celebrations tend to last more than three-four hours, if that much.
His family, on the other hand. . . Thanksgiving is usually a catered affair or done in a restaurant, with the family gathering either at his parents' or uncle's (forty-five minutes away). Christmas begins with a party the weekend before in another state (three hour drive), and continues the day before Christmas Eve, all day Christmas Eve, and, preferably, with everyone spending the night so that Christmas morning everyone is all together, and then all day Christmas day.
It's a logistical nightmare. My mother, God love her, tells me every year that I need to keep my family together over the holidays and spend that time with my husband, and if his family has plans, then that is where we should be, and that we can just do our celebrating with my family later. . . and if my extended family can't be there later, then at least my children got to see some of their cousins and great-aunts and great-uncles. While I love my mother, I think that is horrible advice. I go with the flow most of the time, and I spend far more time at my husband's family events than I do my own, but I draw the line on holidays. With both families so close in distance, there is no excuse to my mind for one family to get so much more time than the other. And I think it is VERY wrong for my children to be taught by example that one family is more important than the other.
Our solution: we divide the kids and each go to our family for Thanksgiving. It's not fun, it's very crappy, but it's what we do. We tried alternating years, but, it's the funniest thing, the year it was my family's turn, his family needed him to cook the meal. That's when I had enough and we split up, since he wouldn't stand up and tell them that he had made arrangements to go with me. Christmas, we do the same the weekend before, so he and my step-son go to the party, while I take the youngest and go to my mother's family's Christmas. My father's family moved to a random night the week leading up to Christmas (to help with scheduling for everyone, not just us), and then my parents and sister get Christmas Eve. We stay in our home and have Christmas morning to ourselves, just the four of us, and meet his family for lunch and the rest of the day. It seems as though my family wins, yet we spend (I counted) an average of twelve hours with his family (all four of us) and only seven with mine.
It isn't even Thanksgiving yet, and we are already being guilted by his family for not planning to spend more time with them over Christmas. Seriously?? It makes me want to not do any Christmas with anyone at all.
That's tonight's rant. The next one will be on commercialism and selfishness and greed.
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